County court project still close to budget

Andrea Rose

Franklin County commissioners were expected to approve several change orders this week on the $67 million court facility improvement project.

On Tuesday, the board reviewed the requests from Project Manager John Hart.

The first change swaps out a diesel generator for a natural gas generator for the new and historic courthouse at an additional cost of $74,260.

"The borough provides natural gas and this should have been spec'd that way from the beginning," Hart said. "The thought is it's more reliable."

Another change ups the cost of removing existing foundations at the site of the former courthouse by $10,248.

"We had an idea what was underground, but we found old basement floors and foundations walls they had to take out that we had no idea were there," Hart told the board.

A third change would cover $16,003 in building permit costs that exceed the contract allowance.

Another change cuts $118,736 in budgeted expenditures for security screening material and installation.

"We were going to purchase X-ray and metal detector equipment for the building, but we're pulling out of the contract and we will supply it. We can do it for half the price through our vendors," Hart explained.

On Tuesday, the board approved an additional $1,552 expenditure for soil under a concrete slab and additional concrete strength testing at the archive building.

"We anticipate a certain level of change order in the contract," said Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski.

Hart said there are always unexpected expenditures that arise during a project.

"You drill a test hole and then 5 feet away, you end up with something different," he said.

"I think we're gonna end up very close to budget," Hart said. "We're gonna have some changes, but not a whole lot."

The court facility improvement project includes a new 108,113-square-foot office structure built along North Main Street; minor renovations to the historic old courthouse; renovations to the courthouse annex; new administrative annex on North Second Street; and the construction of an archive building on North Second Street.

Once complete, administrative offices and court-related offices will be co-located for ease-of-use and operational efficiency. The buildings will also offer enhanced security for all who enter as well as adequate space for growing demand.

Construction of the Franklin County Judicial Center is expected to be completed in the fall of 2021.